Enterobacter sakazakii occasionally causes illness in premature babies and infants.
In previously described outbreaks, infant formula-contaminated during factory production or bottle preparation-was recognized as a source for bacterial colonization.
However, the degree of wider environmental contamination is unknown.
In this study, Dr Chantal Kandhai and colleagues used a refined isolation and detection method to investigate the presence of E. sakazakii in various food factories and households.
|A third of households contained the bacterium.|
The team found that environmental samples from 8 of 9 food factories and from a third of households contained the bacterium.
The investigators comment that appreciation of the widespread nature of this micro-organism needs to be taken into account when designing preventive control measures.
In an accompanying article in the same publication, Dr Jeffrey Farber from Health Canada concludes, "Current industry efforts to reduce the occurrence of E. sakazakii have focused on improving hygiene practices, coupled with environmental monitoring and end-product testing for the organism".
"Since powdered infant formula is not sterile and there is the potential risk of contamination during preparation, there is a need for care when preparing and handling reconstituted powdered infant formulas".
"Health-care professionals should follow recommendations provided by public-health officials and organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, and be alert to possible modifications."